We have always believed that Mayor Digong Duterte was presidential material, and he showed this immediately after casting his vote in late Monday afternoon by reaching out his hand in friendship to his opponents, and inviting them to “forget about the travails of elections” and to begin the healing of wounds.
He was only hopeful then of winning the presidency, still humbly downplaying his likely wide winning margin that the last surveys had predicted.
He said once again, “I ain’t there until I am there.”
For all the vicious insults and black propaganda that he had to injure throughout the campaign period—especially on its last hours—he is indeed a forgiving man, tough against criminals, but soft on the people.
He could never be the despotic strongman and dictator president that his rivals and their fanatical supporters had been warning us about.
PNoy—the country’s official president until June 30—even equated Mayor Digong to Germany’s Adolf Hitler because they both had a phenomenal and meteoric rise to be their country’s most popular public official.
A madman calling his successor Hitler is how my senior citizen friends and I would remember PNoy doing in his last hours as president.
He did it while campaigning for his partymate Mar Roxas at the memorial circle where the remains of the great Manuel Quezon are resting, desperately sowing fear in our hearts about the mayor while imploring us that—
“I need your help to stop the return of terror in our land. I cannot do it alone.”
That was Saturday. We let Sunday pass quietly, and as early as 4 a.m. on Monday, we started trekking to our voting precincts.
We patiently searched for our names and lined up in long snake-like queues while we waited under the hot summer sun. But these difficulties and the malfunctioning vote-counting machines did not make us surrender our right to vote.
By 5 p.m., about 44.4-million or 81.62 percent of us 54.4-million registered voters have cast our ballots.
And to the surprise of many doubters of the automated voting system, the ballots were quickly counted despite earlier fears, doubts and warnings about intentional power and data transmission failures.
Once the electronic counting started, it became very clear that a consistent 38 percent of us preferred the mayor to be our next president by July 1.
We didn’t believe that he would be another Adolf Hitler.
Mayor Digong took the lead immediately and never gave it up. By midnight, he already had a lead of six million insurmountable votes over Senator Grace Poe, who had conceded and congratulated him hours earlier.
When she offered him an “electoral agenda,” the soon-to-be president courteously responded that he would study her proposal and promised to support her advocacies.
Beyond doubt, he had won.
And what came immediately into his mind?
Before daybreak of Tuesday at 3 a.m., he drove to the cemetery, wept at his parents’ graves, and asked for his mother’s help in running the country—
“Tabangi ko, Ma.”
A Hitler or terror he wouldn’t be.
But we are hopeful that he would be a strong-willed president in pushing for the realization of the programs that he had committed to deliver to us.
We agree with his complaint that “Manila gets everything so regions are forced to beg.” Thus, we support his federal system of government, which his amiable spokesman Peter Tiu Laviña announced “will require a wide national consensus beginning with asking Congress to call for a constitutional convention.”
We hope we could federalize soon.
We adopted the mayor’s campaign symbol of a fist as a friendly way of greeting one another. We expect, though, that as president he would use it to achieve peace and order and eliminate criminality, drugs and corruption in government.
We are for implementing nationwide Davao City’s practical and simple ordinances of banning late-night drinking and loud karaoke and imposing curfew for unescorted minors after 10 p.m.
We are concerned, however, with the spokesman’s remarks that although a president could impose them via executive order, they are best done through legislation.
We fear that this would prevent our president from achieving the most basic peace and order at the community level within the first six months of his administration.
We also expect a speedy grant of the P2,000 increase in social security pensions which he once declared he would achieve by reversing PNoy’s veto of it.
A lawyer, he must have known that a simple executive order is enough to increase both social security pensions and contributions but not to merge the two pension institutions of public and private sector workers.
And by the way, a brave Mar Roxas eventually conceded defeat publicly but only after 24 hours from the closing of elections—
“Digong, I wish you success. Ang iyong tagumpay ay tagumpay ng ating sambayanan at ng ating bansa.”
He should have done it earlier. That way, our now prim and proper de facto president could have acknowledged it appropriately in the press conference that he called to declare his victory.